HANCEVILLE — For more than a decade, Lucille Powell has been a reliable citizen face in the often-sparse crowd at just about every meeting of the Hanceville City Council. Usually toting a bag to pull out her knitting gear in case things get long-winded and stale — as they sometimes do — the 79 year old hasn’t let the dry and procedural aspects of municipal government deter her from maintaining a real and lasting personal investment in her community.
“I come so I can know what’s going on. At the senior center, or with your neighbors — people talk and try to surmise what’s going on in the city, but half the time they don’t know,” she explains, her latest in-progress knitting project half-finished in her lap.
“People don’t always get their information right if they never come to the meetings. I know some people who will come up with some wild tales that they’ll share with folks, and nothing you can say to them will change their minds. But I like to come and see what’s really being said here.”
Powell, who’s remained single her whole life, has plenty of reason to stay interested in her adopted hometown. In one way or another, Hanceville’s been in her blood since just after World War II.
“We moved into the White City community in ‘46, and we’ve been around in that community ever since,” recalls the class of 1958 Hanceville grad, who still keeps close ties with the nearby family farm after making the short move from White City to Hanceville about 20 years ago.
“I live across the railroad in the old Stepville section of Hanceville now,” says Powell, retired from a long career with Walmart. “When I worked, I went back and forth to the Walmart at Lakeshore Drive (in Birmingham) until my dad got sick. Then I transferred back up here to help my stepmother take care of him. My sister and her husband bought the farm when mom, and later dad, died. That’s still where we meet up for Christmas — at White City, where we grew up; especially the youngest of us. That’s home to all of us, really — even though I was ten years old when we moved up there.”
For three-term Hanceville mayor Kenneth Nail, it’s refreshing to see residents like Powell take (and maintain) such an unswerving interest in their community.
“Lucille’s been coming to our council meetings since before I was even mayor,” says Nail, who’s been in the office since 2008. “She has such a great interest in, and love for Hanceville. You can count on her pretty much anytime you’re planning an activity or need some folks to pitch in on anything local. Lucille’s gonna be there, and she’s always willing to help. I wish we had more like her.”
Ask Powell the seasonal question — “What’re you thankful for?” — and she doesn’t mess around with abstract concepts.
“Why, I guess I’m thankful I’m still able to wiggle!” she laughs. “They all keep telling me I’m getting old and there’s things I need to be doing…and I’m thankful I can get out and do them. I may be slow at it, and I’m not as fast as I used to be — but I do it. Even if I give out sooner than I used to, I still want to get out there and try things.”